Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Getting Airplay on the Radio

One of the great things about being a musician in New England is that there is no shortage of radio programs that will play original music.  In just the Boston market there are 3 commercial radio stations (WAAF, WFNX and WZLX) that have local music programs.  And if that wasn't enough, there are numerous college stations (too many to list here) and on top of that we also have an online station (Unregular Radio).

So how do you get your music played on these shows?  Let's start off with a few basics, if you have a poorly produced song, a song laden with swear words, no apparent talent, or no drive to get your music to the DJs, you are not likely to receive airplay.  So let's assume you have a well produced song and if there are swears you have either also made a radio-edit version or you have made it abundantly clear that the song has swears so that the DJ won't inadvertently play it without knowing it's chock full of f-bombs.  We'll also assume you have some talent.

The next step is to get your CD or mp3 into the hands of DJs that play original music.  A great way to do this is to bring your music to a Social, there are always DJs who will happily take a copy of your latest CD or link to downloads.  The other way to get your music to the DJs is to check out their submission guidelines on their websites.

Bay State Rock is the local music program on WAAF.  Keep in mind that this is a local show so the host has the latitude to play whatever she wants, she is not limited to any particular genre, so if you think she won't play you because all they play on WAAF is Godsmack and Aerosmith, you are wrong.  The name of the program is a bit of a misnomer, the host isn't limited to playing music solely from the Bay State (that'd be Massachusetts in case you were wondering), she plays music from performers from throughout New England. These premises hold true for most of the local music programs.

Here are the links to the submission guidelines for the local programs on the WAAF, WFNX and WZLX:


Once you've submitted your music you are not done!! First, be patient, there are a lot of performers sending in their material, give the DJs some time to get to your music. If you have a big CD Release coming up, make sure to send your music at least a month in advance.

The next thing you need to do is make sure that the hosts of these programs know when you are playing out.  Their playlists typically reflect the performers who have shows coming up.  Read their submission guidelines, they will tell you how to forward the information to them.  Bay State Rock wants you to send an email a week or two before the show.  Boston Emissions wants you to send an email with the band/day date/venue in the subject line. Boston Accents doesn't want you to send show listings, he checks the calendar listings to see who is playing out.

To reiterate, READ the submission guidelines, if the hosts have taken the time to provide information the last thing you want to do is the exact opposite of what they have asked.

The other thing you need to do is look at their playlists, they all post what they played.  This will give you a sense of what they like and what they tend to play.  You really should be listening to these program and another thing you DO NOT want to to do is ask one of these hosts when they are going to play your awesome song, when they have in fact played your song.  This is a sure way to ensure that they do not play your awesome song again.

Once you have gotten some airplay, it never hurts to thank the DJ for the spin.  A good way to do this is in person at the Social and via one of the social media avenues (e.g., a short "thanks for playing us" post on the DJs facebook page, tweeting "Thanks for the airplay #radio name here").

If you have any other tips for getting airplay, feel free to post your comments here.

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